Work not to run away from yourself – work to realize yourself
Work can be a responsible-seeming way to stay irresponsible. When we succumb to workaholism, work becomes our rationale for neglecting life’s other important aspects, such as our relationships.
We may have dysfunctional relationships at home, but instead of investing the effort necessary to improve those relationships, we may use work as a respectable excuse for running away from those issues. Little do we realize that we are running away from ourselves, more precisely, from our spiritual potential to find lasting fulfillment. Instead of becoming better human beings, we become better performers at our workplace and, on so doing, pat ourselves on the back.
But such self-congratulation can’t help us when our loved ones, being repeatedly neglected, become alienated – or when our body, long battered by excessive work, collapses. Lonely and sickly, we are left with nothing to live for. Such are workaholism’s bitter fruits. The Bhagavad-gita (18.24) cautions that excessive work signifies infection by the dark mode of ignorance.
Of course, work itself is not bad. It is an essential means for sustenance (03.08), and it can be a tool to transcendence (18.46) – we can worship the Absolute with our work, thereby attaining perfection. But for work to serve these constructive purposes, we need holistic self-understanding, which is provided by Gita wisdom.
The Gita explains that we are more than our work, because we are more than our bodies that do work – we are souls who long to love and be loved. We can fulfill that longing by directing it towards the all-attractive, all-loving Supreme, Krishna. Bhakti-yoga, which brings about such spiritual redirection, helps us re-envision work as a means to use our God-given gifts in a mood of service to him.
By work done as devotional contribution, we come closer to Krishna, realizing ourselves as his eternal blissful parts.
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